Lose the Training Wheels, Inc (“LTTW”) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to teaching individuals with disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.  LTTW teaches over two thousand individuals each year in the United States and Canada how to ride bikes, thereby increasing their health, confidence and independence.

They do this via week-long camps, hosted by local individuals or organizations. Using adapted equipment, trained professionals, and volunteers, the riders have 75 minutes of daily instruction over five days. What is truly amazing is that over 80% of the disabled campers learn to ride a conventional bicycle independently by the end of the week!

Lose The Training Wheels Lincroft 2012 took place August 20-24 at Brookdale Community College. All 40 of the riders and over 100 volunteers worked incredibly hard and LTWL can report that everyone’s lives were changed for the better. Parents saw their children do things they never thought possible, volunteers were rewarded for their hard work with smiles, high-fives and hugs. And most importantly, 40 young people, who spend so much of their time being “different” from other kids, were finally just one of the gang, out for a bike ride on a summer afternoon.


Having recently started my career at Lighthouse Financial Advisors, I am working to obtain every bit of knowledge I can from Robert and the LFA team. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity and aspire to receive my CFP accreditation in the near future.  It is important to me to not only “learn from the best,” but to follow the Lighthouse principles in my personal life.

One of the tools that we use when meeting with our clients is the Financial Life Cycle, the seven stages used to determine your financial position.  I am currently in the first of the seven stages – “Building the Foundation.”  In this first stage, my primary strategy has been to follow the “Five Fundamentals of Fiscal Fitness.”


1.)    Save at least 10% of your annual income:

As far back as I can remember, my mother had always taught me the importance of saving and to appreciate money.  I always wanted to see how much I could fit into my piggybank!  A few years ago I began using an Excel spreadsheet to better track my finances.  Once I receive my check I automatically try to put at least 10% into a separate bank account.  This helps keep myself from “wasting” money on unnecessary things that most people in their twenties do.


2.)    Have sufficient liquidity:

As my life progresses, the number of bills that I am responsible for increases – so it certainly makes saving money a lot harder.  As we suggest to clients, I try to have at least 10% of my annual income in a cash reserve account, with another 20% in a secondary reserve.  It seems crazy, but nothing in life is guaranteed and it’s always important to have a backup plan in case something unexpected happens.


3.)    Fully fund your pensions:

Just the other day Robert called me into his office to help with my initial investment in my first 401(k).  It does not matter what age you are, you should take advantage of tax deferred savings plans, especially any that your employer will match your contributions.


4.)    Have the right size house:

For most middle income Americans, your home is the most significant investment you will ever have to make.  We recommend buying a home 2 ½ – 3 times your annual income and holding a mortgage of 50% or more of its value.  If the value of the home reaches 100% to 125% of your income, sell it and trade up.  I have been working hard since graduating college and plan to take the leap to home ownership within the next year or two.


5.)    Pay off all credit cards and consumer debt:

It is important to be aware of the differences between bad debt, good debt and acceptable debt.  Avoid the bad, use the acceptable debt wisely, and take advantage of the leverage of good debt.  Through high school and most of college, my mom advised me not to open a credit card (and as I reflect, I realize she had valid reason).   I am now grateful that I didn’t “ruin” my credit at a young age, as many friends have done.  When I did start using a credit card, I always made sure that I never purchased anything that I couldn’t afford to pay off in the next month.  As a result, at 23 years old, I was able to purchase a car in my own name.


I hope this information has been useful, as well as insightful, as I know many of our clients have children and grandchildren in a similar stage of life. I encourage you to discuss these important “5 Fundamentals of Fiscal Fitness” with your loved ones.  My current success would not have been possible without the help of many great people in my life – especially my parents, Robert and Donna.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season!


As many of us continue to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, this NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/cost-of-coastal-living-to-climb-under-new-flood-rules.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=todayspaper&) examines the costs that could force many from coastal life. It was estimated the fewer than 30% of NY homes affected had flood insurance. FEMA states that homeowners in storm-damaged coastal areas who had flood insurance — and many more who did not, but will now be required to — will face premium increases of as much as 20% to 25% per year beginning in January, under legislation enacted in July to shore up the debt-riddenNational Flood Insurance Program. This means that premiums will double for new policyholders and for many old ones within three or four years under the new law.

Avoiding the expense of flood insurance will become harder because the lenders who do enforce the insurance requirement will face higher penalties. It will take FEMA months to years to finalize the new flood maps which will reflect the damage from Sandy. It may take some time, but it should be a sound assumption that flood insurance and new building standards will be much more expensive and stringent.

Also please note:

  • NJ and NY declared Federal disaster areas will have until Feb 1st, 2013 to make any estimated payments.
  • While property taxes will likely increase in response to the rebuilding effort, NJ State law contains a provision which states that a property with a building or other structure that has been destroyed by a storm between Oct 1st and Dec 31st can have the assessment reduced to reflect the depreciation in value for that property. The landowner must provide the assessor with notice prior to Jan 10th, 2013. The assessor will value the property as of 1/1/2013 but will take into account any improvements made as of 1/1/2013. If you experience damage, we strongly suggest you call your town to have a re-assessment.